Trouble Brewing: Network Rail Axe Fairtrade Company?

By Londonist Last edited 129 months ago
Trouble Brewing: Network Rail Axe Fairtrade Company?

Londonist arrived at work a few days ago to hear some distressing news: AMT, which only serves 100% Fairtrade coffee to its punters, appears to have lost the contract from Network Rail for their outlets at ten of London’s major railway stations. The company that has won the franchise in AMT’s place does not, we are told, offer any Fairtrade products.

Our distress stems from the fact that not only will we be losing affordable, tasty coffee (and Chai Tea Lattes!), but also that this move is incongruous with London’s aim to become a Fairtrade City by 2008.

AMT’s loss of its 14 bars in these stations means it will sell 20,000 fewer cups of Fairtrade coffee each day, meaning coffee farmers will lose out on around £7,000 in investment for their communities, as well as the stability which comes with Fairtrade contracts and minimum prices.

If it bothers you that you won’t be able to get your caffeine fix with a clear conscience first thing in the morning, there are things you can do. Email Barbara Barnes, the Head of Customer Service at Network Rail at, expressing your concern that it is important to offer Fairtrade produce, whether by AMT or not, as an easily accessible option in these mainline stations.

With a bit of luck, before long we’ll be back on the ethical (train) track.

By Cate Trotter.

Image taken from Stuart Bryant's Flickr photostream.

Last Updated 31 July 2007


it's not just their coffee that was fairtrade... they stopped selling Kitkats because (surprise surprise) Nestle are not fairtrade...this is very sad news... will be whisking my email off first thing tomorrow....


Now when writing up such 'alarmist' stories it's always best to get all the facts in front of you.

It's true to say that AMT have not been successful in thier bid, but it was a fair fight. Network Rail is a 'not-for-profit' (not-for-dividend' to be 100% accurate) company and the money it makes from retail on its stations is ploughed back into fixing up more stations and renewing more old bits of railway - so it has a responsibility to maximise revenue while balancing that need against a social responsisbility - after all, train travel is the greenest way to get around (apart from feet and push-bikes of course!).

The new coffee provider has very strong 'fair-trade' policies and credentials and works closely with farmers co-operatives at a local level to ensure a fair price is given for thier produce and this was taken into account as part of the bid process.

So it's not all gloom and I know I'll still be buying coffee from Kings' Cross with the new provider and a clear conscience!


PS. If you do still want to have your say then the email address Cate has suggested above is wrong.

Feel free to go onto the Network Rail website and dowm the left hand side of the home page you'll find a section 'contact us'. On this page you'll find an email form to complete which will then be dircetd to the right people.


Talking of fair prices, the other thing about AMT outlets is that, as well as being ethically sourced and tasting pretty good, their coffee has always been a bit cheaper than their major competitors. I expect we'll now have to pay more for a lower quality product.
Is it only the big stations that are affected, or are they losing their spot at Wimbledon as well?


I looks like they will be keeping Wimbledon. I've been told it's the following sites that they'll lose:

London Bridge
Kings Cross
Fenchurch Street
Cannon Street
Liverpool Lime Street
Charing Cross

We'll have to see who the new provider is, but I'm still dubious as to whether they offer such a positive option as AMT. Even though the new provider may have Fairtrade options, AMT set an example to the rest of the industry, encouraging them all the smarten up their act, and they've lost these key sites now, which is a real shame.


And sorry, here's the link for you to comment:



This is the response I received:

Dear Jennifer

Thank you for your e mail.

Network Rail is required to maximise its commercial revenues to invest in Britain's railway infrastructure and provide best value for tax and fare payers.

The leases currently held by AMT at our stations were about to expire and subsequently were put up for tender. AMT’s bid was unsuccessful at some stations. However, AMT have successfully bid at London St Pancras, London Liverpool Street and Glasgow Central.

Café Nero submitted successful bids at a number of stations. Café Nero assures us that it takes an ethical approach to the supply of its coffee and rewards growers for quality, creating a sustainable open market. Full details can be found on their website at

We understand that this will cause disappointment to regular customers of AMT, but I trust this information has explained the situation.

Yours truly,

Nick Gray
Network Rail