Brian Collins has a ticket to ride.

Collins is the brainchild behind a new division of the Cincinnati Railway Co., which provides upscale passenger service in a collection of five connected dining and sleeper cars.

You may have seen his string of luxury railway cars, parked on the tracks by the Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse, downtown on Eastern Avenue. The cars are actually owned by a variety of private interests, but Collins has grouped them together here in Cincinnati. "I smelled that there was a business here, and I was right," he says.

Climb aboard the "Chapel Hill," built circa 1922 for E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, for instance, and you'll enter the world of a generation (albeit a wealthy generation) past. With its sofa lounge, formal dining room, four bedrooms, full bathroom and kitchen, the car sleeps eight plus two crew members.

Another opulent treasure in Collins' grouping of cars from the "Golden Age" of railroading is the 1950 stainless steel "Birch Grove," sleeping up to 22 people in a suite of double bedrooms and single roomettes.

When not sleeping, riders can stroll to the accompanying "Vista Dome," a 1954 stainless steel dome car with a 360-degree observation dome in addition to a galley, showers and lounge area.

There's also the 1954 "Oliver Hazard Perry" lounge and dining car, decked out with mahogany woodwork and plasma-screen TV, and the 1950 "Silver Star," a former Union Pacific business car that sleeps eight plus two crew.

Collins is quick to point out he's not selling transportation: He's selling nostalgia.

The price tag isn't cheap "” "We are targeting high-end people" "” starting at $30,000. A guest book reveals that celebs such as Merle Haggard and Michael Jackson have rented out the Cincinnati train, which includes its own wine cellar.

One, two, three or all five cars can be chartered, for groups as large as 35, with or without chef and crew, notes Collins. "We do corporate events, where CEOs take their top performers, their top clients."

Trips can remain in the state, or hit the rails to such destinations as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Continental Divide, or even a jaunt through Alaska or a quick hop over to a Chicago Cubs game. "We go to places that haven't seen private passenger service in 30 years."

All Collins' cars are Amtrak-compliant, and he says that's an important distinction. "There are only 80 such private cars in America, and we have five of them here in Cincinnati. That is unique," says Collins. Because of this, the Cincinnati Railway Co. can offer a variety of charter excursions across America and Canada, connecting via regular Amtrak routes.

"Our clients get to use five cars," says Collins. "Nobody else can offer that in the country."