Japanese mobility company Hitachi Rail has agreed to acquire Perpetuum, a UK startup developing technology that digitises train maintenance and operations. The deal requires antitrust clearance but is expected to close this autumn.

Perpetuum’s sensors use wireless condition monitoring to spot faults in critical train parts (such as wheel sets, gearboxes or motors) and have them fixed before they cause any delays. These self-powered sensors are to be installed in hundreds of Hitachi-built trains already running around the world, including 276 of them in the UK.

The acquisition adds a service and maintenance component to Hitachi’s full service portfolio, which also includes driverless metros, high-speed bullet trains and signalling solutions.

“Perpetuum’s data-driven insights will offer further improvements to the service we provide to our customers – leading to better journeys for passengers. It also supports Hitachi’s growth in the digital technologies space, which is becoming increasingly key to our offering,” said Andrew Barr, Group CEO of Hitachi Rail.

Founded in 2004 as a spinout from Southampton University, Perpetuum reportedly raised over $20 million (according to Crunchbase) and operates on three continents. The startup and its 73 staff will be integrated into Hitachi’s company of more than 12,000 employees across 38 countries.

Photo: from Perpetuum website

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