Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ contains common questions and answers for the NMRA 2015 Portland convention. Please review these questions and answers first before sending your question to the convention committee.


No, all regular Clinics are held on a first come, first served basis and are included in the cost of your registration. The only exception is the "Modeling With the Masters" program, which we do not refer to as "clinics" for this reason. The MWTM sessions require registration and a fee, and are purchased through the NMRA Company Store as for the tours. A few clinics have space limits, so check the detailed clinic pages to see if you need to reserve a seat in advance. These are the exceptions.

If you would like to offer a Rail clinic, contact our Clinics Chair, Charlie Comstock, at and discuss your proposal with him. If you would like to offer a Non-Rail Clinic, contact our Non-Rail Chair, Suzy Madsen, at and discuss your proposal with her.


There are dozens of restaurants in the neighborhood, the Lloyd Center mall as well as a food court in the mall. There are more options within two or three blocks of the convention hotel. We will have more details available at the convention.

The hotel is fully handicapped accessible as are Portland’s MAX Light Rail, Street cars and buses. We will be noting accessibility issues on layout and other tour destinations. Our tour buses will be able to transport those who are able to board and deboard and will have storage for wheelchairs and scooters that will fit into their luggage compartments. Unfortunately, our buses will not have the ability to transport people who cannot leave their wheelchairs. Contact us if you have special needs and we will work with you to try to find a solution to your accessibility issues.

Unfortunately we were not able to secure a sponsor for the Guidebook app that was used last year in Cleveland. We are working on a mobile friendly version of this web site that will be easy to read on a small phone display. It will require a data connection to the Internet, unlike the Guidebook app that was downloaded to your phone. The ability to create your own schedules will not be a part of the mobile version.

“Rail” activities are generally those that a model railroader or railfan would be interested in. These activities include: clinics on railroad history and model railroading techniques, Special Interest Group activities, auction, layout tours, tours of railroad yards, and industrial tours. Non-Rail activities are aimed primarily (but not exclusively) at partners of Rails who aren’t that interested in Rail activities. Their activities include clinics on crafts, gardening, health, and charity quilting to name a few. General Interest Tours will go to locations that may interest both Rails and Non-Rails. For example, we have a tour to visit the Pacific Ocean beaches as well as a ride along the coast on a tourist railroad and we will have a tour to visit the Evergreen Air Museum, the home of Howard Hughes’ famous “Spruce Goose,” the giant flying boat from World War II.

The convention will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton located at 1000 NE Multnomah Street near the Lloyd Center District.


Are there other alternatives to parking at the convention hotel?
There are a few public paid parking lots in the neighborhood. There is a parking structure immediately southeast of the hotel that advertises $7.50 per day. People have been known to park in the Lloyd Center for free but if they catch you your car could be towed, so parking there is at your own risk. On street parking is metered and seems to be limited to 5 hours to discourage office workers from parking there and Portland’s Parking Patrol does give tickets if they happen by and notice that a car hasn’t moved in that amount of time. Another option would be to park in one of TriMet’s (Portland’s transit agency) “Park & Ride” lot on the MAX light rail line and ride the train to and from the hotel. We suggest the Gateway/NE 99th Ave Transit Center, 1321 NE 99th Ave, Portland, OR 97220
The Red Line serves the airport. Your train will be labeled “Beaverton” and will take you directly to either the DoubleTree or Inn at the Convention Center. For the DoubleTree your stop is the Lloyd Center / Holladay Park stop and for the Inn at the Convention Center your stop is the Convention Center stop. In both cases, the hotel is across the street from the stop.
The Red Lion offers free shuttle service to and from Portland International Airport from 5:00 am until 11:00 pm daily.
Portland’s MAX light rail system connects Portland’s Union Station with the DoubleTree and the Inn at the Convention Center. When you leave Union Station proceed to the NW 6th & Hoyt stop and board a Green Line train labeled for “Clackamas”. That train will take you directly to these hotels. For the Inn at the Convention Center you need to get off at the Convention Center stop and then cross NE Martin Luther King Blvd to find the hotel on your right. For the DoubleTree convention hotel, you need to go two stops further east and get off at the Lloyd Center / Holladay Park stop. The DoubleTree is across NE 11th Avenue from the stop.
If you are staying at the Red Lion on the River and have a choice for your Amtrak stop, we suggest you travel to and from Amtrak’s Vancouver, Washington station rather than Portland’s Union Station (The “Empire Builder,” “Starlight” and the Regional “Cascades” trains all stop at Vancouver). The taxi from Union Station will cost about $30 or you could take the MAX light rail Yellow line to its end at the Expo Center stop and call for a Red Lion free shuttle from the stop. But if you detrain at Vancouver’s Depot, the Red Lion offers free shuttle service to and from the hotel. The shuttle is available from 5:00 am until 11:00 pm daily.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel provides free Wi-Fi in public areas (like the lobby) and in its guest rooms. Wi-Fi is available for a fee in meeting rooms.
Parking is complementary at the DoubleTree for all convention registrants and includes in and out privileges. However, the hotel’s parking structure has a fixed number of parking spots, so it may be full at certain times during the day and convention.

Here are a few RV parks in the area that you could contact:

1. Jantzen Beach RV Park, 1503 North Hayden Island Drive, Portland, OR 97217, (503) 289-7626
2. Columbia River RV Park, 10649 Northeast 13th Avenue, Portland, OR 97211, (503) 285-1515
3. Rolling Hills Mobile Terrace & RV Park, 20145 Northeast Sandy Boulevard, Fairview, OR 97024, (503) 512-0207
4. Portland Fairview RV Park, 21401 Northeast Sandy Boulevard, Fairview, OR 97024, (503) 661-1047

The NMRA Convention Hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton, has rented all of its rooms. So we have just contracted with another hotel for you to book your room in Portland. The Red Lion on the River hotel is closer to the National Train Show (NTS) site than the DoubleTree convention hotel but the convention hotel is easily reached by car or by Portland’s MAX light rail system if you won’t have a car. The new hotel is located on the Columbia River in a very beautiful setting. In fact, if you attended the 1994 NMRA National, this is the same hotel we used back then. The Red Lion on the River will provide a free shuttle to take you to either the Expo Center for the NTS or to the Expo Center MAX stop from which you can travel to the DoubleTree hotel for convention activities. The Red Lion rooms are available to us for $135 for single/double occupancy per night plus tax.

If you won’t have a car, MAX light rail One Day and & Seven Day passes are quite reasonable, particularly if you qualify for the senior fare (we plan to have these passes for sale in our Company Store).

National Train Show

The Expo Center is located about 6 miles north of the convention hotel.

Many registrants will already have Weekly passes on Tri-Met.

We are providing DAY passes, at our cost, so you can ride MAX’s Yellow Line, which terminates at the Expo Center.

From the Convention hotel, ride MAX (Blue or Green Line trains) West to Rose Quarter Transit Center, then a short walk (785 feet) to the Yellow Line. (If you don’t want to walk, stay on any Green Line train and continue across the river. Get off at the first stop west of the river. Walk around the Greyhound terminal to its main entrance, board a Yellow Line train heading back the way you came.) MAX operates at 15-minute or better frequencies during the day. The trip averages 40-minutes.

The convention is providing shuttles on Friday morning to/from the Yellow Line for registrants with disabilities. A golf cart shuttle can be arranged if you find the walk from the Expo MAX stop to the convention hall is too far.

If you wish to participate in tours, and other activities over several days, you are entitled to access to convention activities with your NTS name badge. However, if you wish to participate in convention activities before the NTS registration opens on Wednesday of convention week, you must contact NMRA Headquarters and request your credentials no later than July 31, 2015. NMRA HQ has a procedure for NTS Exhibitors, allowing for two PDX 2015 name badges per registered Company. Registration packs will be at the pre-registration desk for pickup on Sunday, August 23, as with other participants. Tours and other extra-fares can then be purchased as desired. Tours cannot be purchased in advance.
An exhibitor or club member with a display layout at the National Train Show who wishes to participate at the PDX 2015 NMRA National Convention must register for the convention as do other attendees.

The National Train Show® is an NMRA event held annually in conjunction with the NMRA National Convention. All convention registrants who are registered for any of the day(s) that the National Train Show® is open will be admitted to the National Train Show® on that day at no additional cost.

Location: Portland Expo Center, 2060 North Marine Drive, Portland, Oregon

Public Show Hours:
Friday, August 28, 2015: 12:00 noon to 6:00 pm (open to convention registrants from 9:00 am); Saturday, August 29, 2015: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm,
Sunday, August 30, 2015: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Public Admission prices:
Adult $14.00
Seniors $13.00
Two Day Adult (one person) $26.00
Youth (6 – 12) $7.00
Children under 6 free

The National Train Show® will be held at the Portland Expo Center which is located at 2060 North Marine Drive, Portland, Oregon.


Yes, Portland’s excellent Light Rail system (MAX) directly connects both the airport and Amtrak’s Union Station with the convention hotel. Take either the Green, Blue or Red lines and get off at the Lloyd Center stop.

That depends on what you plan to do. If you are planning to stick with the convention activities, then probably not. We will provide transportation to most convention activities and venues (See individual event descriptions for details). One exception will be the self-guided layout tours which, by definition, will require attendees to arrange their own transportation. However, most layout tours will provide bus transportation.

Of course, if you plan to go off doing your own activities during the convention, then a car might be necessary. Portland has an excellent mass transit system, including its MAX Light Rail system that has a stop right at the hotel. Most popular destinations within the city that you might want to visit on your own can be easily reached using MAX, street car or buses.

Portland’s TriMet manages the Portland Metro’s transit system. Their system includes buses, light rail (MAX), street cars and a heavy rail interurban line (WES). Their website is:

More information is also available on our web site under the "Portland" menu.


We will have a Day Fare registration available in Portland. The Day Fare registration rate will only available on-site however. The exact Day Fare has yet to be set. It will be posted here as soon as it is available.

No, you do not need to be a member of the NMRA to register for and attend the convention. However anyone who is not a member of either the NMRA, or an independent group that is participating in the convention, will be asked to pay a nonmember surcharge of $25 (due from only one member of each family registration group) as a part of their registration. This surcharge may be used as credit toward full NMRA membership if purchased before the end of the convention. All registrants may participate in any of the convention tours and activities except only NMRA members may enter the Model and Photo Contests.

In order to cancel your convention registration you will need to send your request in writing to NMRA Headquarters at and they will process your refund in accordance with our published Refund Policy.

The Primary registrant is our way of designating the original registrant. There must be a Primary Registrant for every family. A Companion Registrant and/or a Family Registrant is a family member, living at the same address, who is registering with the Primary Registrant and is therefore eligible for a reduced registration rate. All registrants are equally eligible to participate in any clinics, tours or other activities, except that entries into the Model & Photo Contests must come from NMRA members.


The hotel is fully handicapped accessible as are Portland’s MAX Light Rail, Street cars and buses. We will be noting accessibility issues on layout and other tour destinations. Our tour buses will be able to transport those who are able to board and deboard and will have storage for wheelchairs and scooters that will fit into their luggage compartments. Unfortunately, our buses will not have the ability to transport people who cannot leave their wheelchairs. Contact us if you have special needs and we will work with you to try to find a solution to your accessibility issues.
Yes, boxed lunches on longer tours are provided by Subway. Water will be available on all bus tours.

Permissions to photograph subjects on tours vary significantly.
Here are answers for both layout and other tours.

Layout tours

If you wish to take photos or videos of the layout, ask the host for permission. It is rarely refused, but if the host is reluctant, put the camera away. Do not allow your filming to monopolize the best viewing areas or interfere with others’ views and movement. Tripods, large format cameras and bags of any kind are not permitted at layouts on tour.

Prototype and General tours

In our experience photography policy will be advised by the corporate person meeting our bus at the beginning of the tour. Many facilities have commercially sensitive processes. Several require that their worksites not be photographed. Some may require all cameras and cell phones be left on the bus. As a rule of thumb, historical enterprises (e.g. museums) welcome photography, commercial industries usually do not.

Many of you are visiting from outside the local area. Photography from the tour coach, during your travels, is always possible!

We will maintain a “wait list” for tours. We encourage the use of this feature because it offers two potential paths:

(1) you will be in line if and when someone cancels their reservation and
(2) it tells us the level of demand for a given tour and if demand justifies we will see what we can do to increase the capacity of the tour or add another section of it.

The procedure for being placed on the waitlist for a sold-out tour is as follows:

Call NMRA Headquarters at (423) 892-2846 during office hours 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (EDT) Monday through Friday.
Have ready the tour number and name, credit card details.
You will be listed for potential openings on the tour.
If space becomes available Headquarters will fulfill the reservation, bill immediately and confirm by email.
For tours with sufficient people on the waitlist we may be able to schedule an additional bus.

As a practical matter and based on the experience of many conventions, booking tours with much less than 30 or 45 minute headway carries a risk and a 15 minute headway is very risky. We can not hold up an afternoon tour because a morning tour is delayed and our policy does not allow for refunds for tours missed because of a missed connection.

We realize that some tours are booked with close headways due to a variety of scheduling constraints that we took into account when we set up the schedule. Since different buses may be involved with the two adjacent tours, you should not assume that your bus being late will delay the afternoon bus -- though that is possible if the two tours do happen to share the same bus. We do not have that information (it will be controlled by the charter bus company) so we couldn't advise you on that detail in any case.