OK, I'm a model railroader, and I am into "operation", and I have been at the model railroading thing pretty serious for about 47 years now.
I found the OP's question a bit confusing, but I can provide some more insights into the behavors of a great many HO modelers.
First rule of model trains, there are no rules, other than the ones each model sets up for his layout.
Some modelers want to be the "engineer", some have build full scale cab mockups to that end. There have been any number of electrical simulations of actual train handling, momentum, braking, etc. Some like that sort of thing, most don't.
As mentioned above, most of it does not scale down well.
Long before DCC, any number of control schemes and throttle designs have been developed to better simulate the activities of the engineer and the dispatcher.
Some modelers want to be the dispatcher. Many operation oriented layouts have full scale CTC machines, often in a seperate room from the layout, and someone sits there and "plays" dispatcher while others run the trains.
Some people choose to simplify or stream line all the steps and processes of real operation, while still providing some "sense" of the actions necessary to move a train over the road.
Some built layouts with signal systems, some very complete, others simlified.
Most actually do not build signal systems........cost, complexity, learning curve........
Generally, groups of modelers with similar interest in this area will help each other develop suitable systems, many of which have been documented in the model press over the last 50-60 years.
The one thing that obviously works agains full simulation is selective compression. Even a very large home layout is likely only representing 8-15 scale miles of trackage....not exactly a subdivision......
Many like to just do car switching. Local trains go out with train orders and pickup/set out lists.
Some run with fast clocks, some not. Some simulate CTC as mentioned above.
I have my own version. I still use DC power. I have hand held radio throttles that use push buttons to accel, decel, change direction and emerg stop the loco.
A dispatcher panel, with simplified controls sets switch routes thru interlockings, assigns throttles to the desired track sections and gives clear indications to trackside signals for the engineers who are following their train around the layout, controlling its speed and direction.
In the absence of a dispatcher, the engineers can handle dispatching themselves at tower panels for each interlocking which have redundent controls.
These actions are simplified in my case. One button sets a route thru the interlocking. One more button assigns the next block to an approaching train and provides him with the proper signal indication.
The following features are actual:
Switches in the interlocking can not be thrown if the detection circuit in the interlocking is occupied.
Detection circuits set the signals to red. All my signals are absolute signals at interlockings, no intermediate block signals.....selectivley compressed distances.
Instead, each home signal also has an approach signal mid way in the approaching block, which displays yellow on a red home signal.
Interlocking signals display green or red for main routes, and yellow or red for restricted speed routes.
Did I mention I model 1954......in the Mid Atlantic.
So, rules exist, the "game" is played with the little 1/87 toys, trains on hidden storage tracks come into view, travel over the system, sometimes terminating at a modeled yard, or getting a power change there, then proceed to another hidden storage track. Train move east and west at the same time....some guys model single track with sidings, I model mostly double track, but bolth tracks are signaled for both directions.
One evenings operatons can move 15-20 trains across the "sub", and several local belt line switching runs can be made, while several passenger trains also cover the sub.
But personally, I have no interest in making model operation any more "realistic" than that.
Another feature, ATC - run a red signal and your train stops. Don't ask me how I do it, it's very simple, but hard to explain.
In my case, the layout is specificly designed to support this kind of operation, AND to allow simple display running of multiple trains. Trains in display mode still trip block signals red, and have green or yellows in advance of their route.
I know how a steam locomotive works, I have no desire to simulate those actions just to get my HO loco to move. But I do enjoy simulating the "big picture" of daily operations on my minature "subdivision".
And I enjoy just turning them on and being a rail fan standing on the hill.......
Others have their own mix of how detailed or simple operations are. I have operated on a number of other schemes on other layouts.
But again, very few are interested in actual cab controls, and few are interested enough in signals to learn/build a system. Even fewer would be interested in an actual diesel engine in a small model. For most, that is not what model trains are about.
If I was looking for that experiance I would go get a job at Strasburg......