Thirteen years of Translink

Trans Link Systems (Translink) was established in 2001 to introduce and maintain the OV-chipkaart system in the Netherlands. The principle was for all public transport companies in the Netherlands to be connected to the new system. The five largest public transport companies took the initiative to set up Translink. These shareholders are:
  • Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) – 55%
  • Connexxion – 20% (tot 2008)
  • Rotterdamse Elektrische Tram (RET) – 10%
  • Gemeentelijk VervoerBedrijf in Amsterdam (GVB) – 10%
  • Haagsche Tramweg Maatschappij (HTM) – 5%
Together, these public transport companies provide around 80% of public transport in the Netherlands.

Invitation to tender

In the first quarter of 2002, the tendering process to choose a supplier who could build the Central Back Office was commenced. The basis for the introduction of the OV-chipkaart is Framework Agreement I of April 2002. This framework was established by the then Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, the local governments and the former industry association Mobis (for public transport in the Netherlands). This concerned an open system, in which our Participants have freedom of choice in terms of equipment suppliers (open architecture).

On 4 July 2003, TLS and its shareholders signed a contact with the consortium East-West E-Ticketing. This consortium consisted of: Thales, Vialis and Accenture with MTR Corporation and Octopus Cards Limited (both companies from Hong Kong) as the key subcontractors. The back office solution designed by East-West for the Netherlands is based on the existing and successful public transport chip card used in Hong Kong. Implementation of the new OV-chipkaart system in the Netherlands could now begin.

Customer communication

The subsidiary Trans Link Systems Card Issuer was established in 2004. This part of the organisation is focused on producing OV-chipkaarts, OV-chipkaart Customer Services and the website The OV-chipkaart was first used on the Rotterdam metro system (RET) at the end of 2004. It was first possible to use the OV-chipkaart in April 2005 (RET and Connexxion). This signalled the start of the TLS Central Back Office (CBO). The CBO processes the transactions.


On 2 January 2006, TLS Card Issuer merged with TLS C.V. to form Trans Link Systems B.V (Translink). Then in May 2006 the outsourcing to East-West (Accenture) was moved in-house at Translink. This created around 30 new TLS jobs. In July 2012, IT management was also moved in-house.

Successful testing

In 2006 the ‘Full Systems Acceptance’ for the OV-chipkaart system was granted by Translink. This meant that Translink and its shareholders had tested their systems. This took place in a pilot trial in Rotterdam and the surrounding area. Here it was possible to travel on the train, metro, bus and tram. When this demonstrated that the system worked well, it was technologically approved by Translink and the operators.

Four shareholders

In 2008 Connexxion decided to sell its shareholding in Translink to the other shareholders. Four shareholders remained: NS (68.75%), GVB (12.5%), RET (12.5%) and HTM (6.25%). 



In October 2011 TLS celebrated its 10-year anniversary. In September 2012 Arco Groothedde was appointed as the new General Director.