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Irish Rail operate the main passenger and freight railway lines in Ireland. Their network extends to approximately 1900 km. However there is another rail network in Ireland whose network length probably exceeds this total length. This is the narrow gauge railway used to extract peat from Irish bogs. Prior to the recent discovery of oil and gas, peat was Ireland’s only domestic source of fuel. It is also used for horticulture.
The rail network was first developed in the 1950’s and is owned and operated by a semi-state company, Bord na Mona. It is estimated to be the largest private railway in Europe. It is a mixture of gauges of 610mm (2 feet) and 915mm (3 feet) and operates as a number of stand alone networks. These extract peat from numerous individual bogs and transport it to various power stations, factories or depots.