From the outset, the Marbelup Valley Railway was designed to allow realistic and interesting operation, including both coordinated train movements along the single-track main line and wayside shunting.|
Some of the railway's features which support the operational aims include:
Since July 2001, operating sessions have been held on the MVR every two months. Operating sessions typically require 5-7 operators with duties as follows:
- A reasonable number and variety of sidings, industries, etc. to justify freight traffic over the railway.
- Four modest size stations which represent a significant length of main line and allow varied operational possibilities.
- A consistent and logical geographical layout: Trains heading to the right are going towards Freycinet.
- A Digital Command Control (DCC) system so drivers can simply drive a train without having to worry about complex block power controls. The DCC system uses hand-held throttles which allow drivers to follow their train along the line. Drivers can unplug their throttle while their train is moving and move to the next station.
- Use of Kadee couplers and generous provision of under-track uncoupler magnets, to allow most shunting to be "hands-free"
- A signalling system with centralised traffic control (CTC).
- A wall-mounted fast clock (6x normal speed), driven by the CTC system and synchronised with the clock on the CTC computer.
- A 4-track staging yard (Springdale North) representing the WAGR network beyond the Marbelup Valley area.
- A card-based system for directing movement of goods wagons.
There are four walk-around throttles which generally limit the number of trains on the main line to three, as one throttle is pretty much in full-time use at Freycinet. The room size and aisle space make operation difficult with more than 7 operators.
- Train Controller - coordinates all train movements over the MVR main line.
- Freycinet Yardmaster - coordinates operations within the Freycinet station and yard, assembles outgoing trains, shunts wagons from arriving trains to local destinations, or to outgoing trains.
- Drivers (3) - drive trains over the main line, including carrying out shunting at the smaller stations.
- Driver's Assistants - any extra operators usually assist drivers of local goods trains with shunting.