LONDON, 23 MARCH 2009 - Hitachi Europe Rail Group today announced that the first Class 465 unit with Hitachi traction technology have been handed back to Southeastern on schedule and this prototype unit will start revenue service today.

Hitachi was contracted to replace the traction equipment on the 465/0 and 465/1 Networker units. The project is on schedule. Starting in April 2009, the modification of the full fleet will commence at Ashford lasting until April 2010.

The replacement traction system has to seamlessly fit into the existing vehicles and will improve the traction reliability of the units by a factor of 10. To achieve this, Hitachi utilised the latest traction technology coupled with specific design considerations aimed at equalling or bettering train safety, train performance, route availability, and operational flexibility of the units.

The main driver behind the contract was to improve reliability of the units and the Hitachi design focused on removing components out of the existing design that were perceived as a risk to reliability. The replacement traction system is designed to enable the train to work to schedule even if one out of the four traction inverters on a unit were to fail.

Alistair Dormer, General Manager at Hitachi Europe Rail Group said: “When we accepted the order to integrate our traction system in the existing Class 465 Networker trains, we also accepted the challenge to prove that our leading edge technology could be fitted into older rolling stock. We have fully mastered this challenge and seeing our first train go into service today is proof of that. In addition, we have completed the work on the contracted delivery date and are proud that this means uninterrupted service for both the train operator and travellers. Our commitment to the UK rail industry is as strong as ever and I am very pleased that by working effectively in partnership with HSBC Rail and Southeastern we have achieved this important milestone on time.”