x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

007 foiled in India

Indian officials have balked at letting James Bond ride a motorcycle atop a moving train, in the next film in the spy series. But it's not the super agent they should be worried about.

James Bond loves his cars. He's driven a Mustang in Las Vegas, a three-wheeled rickshaw in Udaipur and an Aston Martin over the mountains near Monte Carlo. He was even at the wheel of a moon buggy in Diamonds are Forever. But it turns out there is at least one car 007 can't commandeer.

An Indian train car, to be precise.

Last week New Delhi asked the makers of the forthcoming Bond film to rewrite a scene in which the suave British spy launches his motorcycle onto a train carriage packed with people on the rooftops.

It would, an Indian official worried, show the nation's train system in a bad light. "Not all trains have people travelling on the rooftops," the railways minister Dinesh Trivedi said at the weekend. But many of them do, he might have added.

To anyone who has ever squeezed into a stuffy, sweltering Indian Railways car, the roof might seem a more comfortable option. Unlike other means of mass transit in India, riding on the rooftop is free, breezy and scenic (and, admittedly, illegal).

And so New Delhi has done what neither Blofeld nor Dr No could: stop Bond in his tracks. India just may come away with an image of safe and efficient rail transport, until someone actually visits, of course. It's probably not Daniel Craig that railway officials need to be worried about.