A proper and sustainable transportation sector would play a key role to fast-track India’s development and economic growth, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said here on Thursday.

"A proper sustainable transportation sector has potential to play a key role in India’s economic growth including removal of social disparity, help reduce global greenhouse gas emission," Prabhu told a Washington audience.

He added that railways would be the backbone of India’s transportation sector.

"I do not think India can achieve higher economic growth unless we put in place a strong transportation sector," Prabhu said at an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a top American thinktank.

Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wants to make infrastructure growth a priority, Prabhu said the transportation would be the key element of the development and making a fast pace growth of the country.

In all this strategy, Prabhu said railways would play a key part of the strategy.

"Indian railways has a very low carbon footprint, has a vast network of railroad and is all set to expand its network across the country," he said.

Early this week, Prabhu said the ministry decided to connect capitals of all the eight states in North-East with rail network in the "next four-five years." 

Railways is one transportation sector, Prabhu said, will combine the social dimension and is environment friendly. He said India wants to involve the US in its modernisation of the railways.

India is already working with more than a dozen countries in this regard. He is scheduled to meet World Bank officials and the US Transportation Secretary during his current trip to the American capital.

Efforts are also being made to revamp the customer service including new seats, reservation system and food quality.

"About 27 million people travel by railways every day. We started the new process on putting it on tweeter. We are able to solve complaints on a real time basis. We need to have a completely responsive system in place," he said.

Noting that globally railways derive more than 30 per cent of its income from non-railway operation, he said the modernisation of railway stations and its real estate is a step in that direction. As of now Indian Railways earns less than one percent of its income from non-railway operation," he said.

"Things are changing. Changing for better, But, a long way to go… In the next five years, we are going to double the money that being invested today," he said.