Sir - You reported last year (RG 12.00 p798) that the Federal Railway Office had signalled the end of its reservations against driverless operation in Germany. EBA section chief Hans Heinrich Grauf had explained to a seminar of the Deutsche Verkehrsforum that the office no longer saw any legal restrictions.

This view was based on an study by the Association of German Transport Undertakings (VDV), which suggested that the regulations covering the use of remote control on railways and in factories could also be applied to driverless operation.

In the meantime, however, the Federal Ministry of Transport has moved swiftly to damp down any optimism raised by the EBA comments. The Ministry has advised the VDV that it does not in fact intend to alter its legal position. ’Remote control’ regulations only apply to the remote operation of a locomotive or shunting tractor by a driver, and do not cover remote control by automated data processing (EDV) systems.

Thus it seems that the signals for driverless operation in Germany are no longer green, as suggested by the EBA, but firmly back to caution. Bureaucracy applies the brakes again!

Ralf Roman Rossberg