ALLISNOT well, it seems, with the smart card intended for use on most public transport across the Netherlands.

The OV-Chipkaart project is being led by the Trans Link Systems consortium grouping Netherlands Railways, the transport operators in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Den Haag and regional bus operator Connexxion. A contract worth more than €120m was signed in July 2003 with the East-West consortium of Thales, Accenture and Vialis.

Public testing of a pilot scheme was planned on the 28 km Rotterdam - Hoek van Holland line, but trials with fare-paying passengers have been postponed. It seems that there were complications with reduced-fare tickets for elderly passengers and people with dogs or bicycles. The entry and exit gates were also considered to be inadequate.

Only when OV-Chipkaart has been successfully tested will Transport Minister Karla Peijs release €80m needed to roll out the card across the Netherlands. The aim was to phase out the paper-based strippenkaart by 2008, but this may now be in doubt.