Passenger train service is expected to increase in Rockland by 2012 with the announcement Jan. 28 that Amtrak will expand to Brunswick where Maine Eastern Railroad will connect to that line.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced in a news release that $35 million will be invested to improve the rail line between Brunswick and Portland, allowing an extension of Amtrak service to the Midcoast.

“This is a significant economic boost to Maine,” Pingree said. “It will put over 200 people to work improving the rail line and bring economic development to downtown train stations in communities like Freeport and Brunswick.”

Train service to Brunswick is expected to start by the end of 2011 or 2012, depending on when work begins, said Patricia Quinn of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

Gordon Page, vice president and director of passenger operations for Maine Eastern Railroad, said the news was exciting.

“This is very good news for the people of Rockland and the Midcoast,” Page said.

Maine Eastern Railroad already has a verbal agreement with Amtrak and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority to serve as a connecting passenger service to Amtrak in Brunswick, Page said.

Maine Eastern Railroad will continue its excursion passenger service but will add a regular passenger connector to Brunswick. Page said details on the number of trips and whether the service will be year-round or seasonal have not been determined.

The Downeaster expects to have one of its five daily trips to Portland go to Brunswick and have a return train from Brunswick connect back to Portland.

Pingree said the extension of the rail line is “a natural tourism generator.”

Trainriders Northeast Chairman Wayne Davis also praised the announcement.

“This will fulfill the dream for an awful lot of Maine people to be able to get on the train in Midcoast Maine and ride all the way to Boston,” Davis said in the news release from Pingree’s office. “Nearly 5 million people go from the Boston area to Freeport to go shopping. That’s a big market that the Downeaster can tap into.”

The Downeaster began service between Portland and Boston in 2001.

Seasonal excursion passenger service between Rockland and Brunswick began in July 2004, stopping that first year adjacent to Sandy Beach. In 2005, passengers were dropped off outside the train station on Union Street. In 2006, the station building was renovated and a restaurant was added.

Regular passenger train service ended in Rockland in 1959.