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In the early 1990s, with the sectorisation of British Rail, 26 locomotives were dedicated for freight traffic; they were reclassified Class 90/1 and renumbered 90125-150 by the addition of 100 to the original number.

The modifications included lowering the maximum speed to 75 mph (121 km/h) and isolating the electric train supply.

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Despite being built to be less susceptible to fire damage than Classes 81-85, 90050 caught fire at the end of September 2004, prompting its storage and subsequent stripping for spares. The passenger locomotives were named after cities, newspapers or famous institutions.

Many of the freight locomotives have been given names with a commercial link.

The Class 90 was the first new locomotive to carry Inter City Swallow livery.

Upon the privatisation of British Rail in 1996, the Class 90 fleet was divided between several operators.

In early 2004 Anglia, (later became "ONE") needed a replacement for their ageing Class 86 locomotives on the Great Eastern Main Line.

At the same time Virgin Trains was starting to retire its Class 90 locomotives as Class 390 units were introduced.

Of the remaining locomotives, the first 15, 90001-015, were operated by Inter City West Coast on express passenger services.

90021-024 were operated by Railfreight Distribution, but remained as standard Class 90/0 locomotives to enable them to rescue passenger trains.

German railway giant Deutsche Bahn has already been busy buying up a number of UK train operators and has now set its sight on taking on the airlines and arch rival Eurostar to win passenger services between the UK and the Continent.

It aims to slash the train travelling time from Central London to Frankfurt, nicknamed 'Bankfurt' in Germany because it is the nation's major financial centre, from around six hours to less than five hours.

Fifty were built in the late 1980s, numbered 90001-050.