AUSTRALIA: Sydney's plans to introduce contactless ticketing have been dealt a severe blow after the New South Wales government terminated its contract with supplier ERG.

The NSW government had pledged to deliver smart card ticketing by the start of the 2000 Olympic Games, but a series of delays and technical difficulties have left the project running almost a decade late.

ERG's board of directors issued a statement on January 24 describing the decision to terminate the contract as 'unreasonable, short-term, and politically driven'.

'The government's action is bitterly disappointing given that the project, despite its difficulties, was so close to being available for the commuters of New South Wales', the statement added. The complexity of Sydney's multi-modal network and fares structure has been cited as a contributory factor to the delayed roll-out of T-card. A small-scale trial that had been underway in some areas will now cease, although school pupils issued with T-cards will continue to use them.