A PIONEERING Southampton tech firm is being snapped up by the Japanese giant Hitachi in a move which the buyer says could improve the reliability of trains around the world.

All 73 staff at Perpetuum will become part of the Hitachi Rail operation, which has more than 12,000 employees in 38 countries.

Hedge End-based Perpetuum develops digital technology to optimise railway operation and maintenance.

Its self-powering digital sensors detect vibrations and send back data about the performance of critical parts such as wheel sets, gearboxes, motors and bogies.

None of the 3,000 carriages fitted with Perpetuum sensors have ever had critical components fail in service.

The business was started at Southampton University less than 10 years ago.

Andrew Barr, group chief executive of Hitachi Rail, said: “The inclusion of one of the most exciting, pioneering companies in digital asset management is an exciting development for our global mobility business.

“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 – adding value to support our global customer base.”

Perpetuum chief executive Steve Turley said: “We are very excited to launch this next stage for Perpetuum after the success it has had since entering the railway market less than 10 years ago.

“Being part of Hitachi will present vital opportunities that only a global transport giant can offer. We look forward to better supporting our existing and new customers in the future.”

Hitachi Rail says the buyout will help improve the reliability of passenger trains around the world, including the 276 Hitachi-build trains running in the UK today.

Perpetuum’s technology ensures critical parts are replaced exactly when they need to be, increasing their lifespan by more than 25 per cent, cutting costs and protecting the environment.

The deal will create opportunities to fit Perpetuum’s sensors to hundreds of trains serviced by Hitachi around the world.

The owners selling to Hitachi for an undisclosed sum are predominantly venture capitalists.

Its acquisition comes at a time when the British and Japanese governments are negotiating a free trade agreement to follow Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The Perpetuum deal is subject to satisfying the competition authorities. It is due to be completed this autumn.