An East Coast spokesman said it has no intention of getting rid of guards - though the maintenance and buffet car
issues are matters for whichever company takes over the franchise when it is re-privatised.
First Great Western, whose current franchise ends in 2015 but has been offered a new deal that will run for at least three and a half years after, says it has no current plans to remove buffet cars from trains RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "This Government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich now intend to introduce an upstairs-downstairs service on Britain's long haul rail services which would condemn the vast majority to pay through the nose to travel in rammed-out carriages where the catering trolley is jammed at one end while the elite glide through the country like extras from Downton Abbey.
"These new Hitachi trains have been explicitly commissioned by the Government to allow the sacking of on-board staff, the axing of buffet cars and have left a question mark hanging over the future of the existing maintenance depots."
Demonstrations will be held today at stations in Cardiff and Kings Cross in London, when rail travellers will be urged to join the union's campaign against any move for driver-only operation and the removal of buffet cars
and their replacement by a trolley service.
The railway company said that only one passenger in eight uses the 35-tonne buffet car and that removing it would speed up journey times by as much as eight minutes.
The buffet car is part of value added, but it's not essential.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union has written to the Government saying it will ballot for industrial action if guards and buffet cars
are not retained on the new Hitachi fleet, set to be introduced on First Great Western services.
The decision by First Great Western to do away with their buffet cars
is a sad sign of the times.
The employee-owned grocer, part of the John Lewis Partnership, will supply all standard-class buffet cars
across the entire Eurostar fleet with hot and cold food including mushroom risotto, chicken tikka masala, classic British sandwiches and croque monsieur grilled cheese and ham sandwiches.
"The franchise deal allows First to axe buffet cars
from high-speed services under 200 miles.That would leave all services to Cardiff, Exeter and Bristol without proper catering facilities, so we need the biggest possible protests now."
THE buffet cars
on British trains are rarely bastions of gourmet delight.