It won’t help dull the impact of this summer’s gas prices, but there was good news in the effort to provide transportation alternatives in the future.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins jointly announced that the New England Passenger Rail Authority has received an additional $3.4 million for track upgrade between Portland and Brunswick.

That follows the $35 million received for the track between Portland and Brunswick last year and the $20.8 million awarded in a competitive grant process to upgrade the tracks between Portland and Boston.

Combined, these investments will provide temporary construction jobs in an economy that is lagging through a slow economic recovery. But the long-term effect that expanded train service brings is something even more worthy of celebration.

Train ridership has grown steadily since the introduction of the Downeaster service. As tracks are improved and the trip from Maine to Boston gets shorter, ridership can be expected to keep growing.

The senators are right to support this kind of forward-looking investment in transportation infrastructure that will pay dividends in the short term and in the future.

Public investment in trains has already promoted tourism and stimulated private development. This grant is good news, even if the real effects won’t be felt for a while.