Trains are not like cars. If you think you can drive a train under moderately extreme condition with no route knowledge then you have no idea what you're talking about! (Sorry, can't sugar coat that!)
Any rail system with extreme conditions (whether it be high speed or steep grades) requires route knowledge. With it, nothing else is required, without it, nothing else is sufficient. I suppose that when the French got the TGV to 575km/h they had an alarm that gave a point of no return to crashing thru the buffer stops with an emergency appication? I don't think so!
If you want to drive a train over a demanding route with no route knowledge then you will kill people.
To sugar coat it a bit (I didn't write the reply harshly, it is factual) then a good example of route knowledge would be knowing every crossover on your journey through Sydney. Every set of points either has a limit of 25km/h or has a marked speed limit of a higher or lower speed. Before you can qualify to drive through Sydney over a particular route, you have to know the location of every single one of them, their speed limit, and the signal indications you require to take those points. No warnings about points of no return (there are plenty), no warning on the speed limit, but a certain knowledge of every single one. That doesn't just apply to drivers of high performance and good braking electric trains, it also applies to drivers of lumbering freights.
You can't competently control a massive steel train, coal train or container train without that knowledge! These trains get either two or three signal aspects as advice of a turnout.
Another example is the length of time to train a Cityrail driver, about a year. It's not as if they have to steer! Learning how to accelerate and brake doesn't take longer than to drive a car, learning the speed boards and points is best done on the job, learning the theory of red and green signals and electric power with air brakes is not that hard. The time is all spent learning the routes and their requirements.
None of those examples are extreme railroading, they are the normal day to day railway work that so many do. It would not be possible to have a partial high/partial low speed railway system where route knowledge wasn't paramount.
In the old days with steam engines, three things were important: Loco control, train handling and route knowledge. Then it's simpler with a diesel: loco control is really simple, but train handling and route knowledge are still paramount. of course, those high speed EMU trains are coupled tight, so train handling is really simple, leaving only route knowledge as the paramount requirement. It's much simpler now than it has ever been before, so really any warning of a low speed ahead should be totally unnecessary.
If you would like more explicit examples of route knowledge requirements, then ask. But also ask yourself how many sets of points you cross on a trip through Sydney on an electric train!