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Flushing Local
New York City Subway
Flushing Local

on the SubwayNut
Service at All Times
·Flushing-Main St
·Mets-Willets Point
·111 Street
·103 St-Corona Plaza
·Junction Blvd
·90 St-Elmhurst Av
·82 St-Jackson Heights
·74 St-Broadway
·69 St-Fisk Av
·61 St-Woodside
·52 St-Lincoln Av
·46 St-Bliss St
·40 St-Lowery St
·33 St-Rawson St
·Queensboro Plaza
·Court Square
·Hunters Point Av
·Vernon-Jackson Avs
Steinway Tunnel
·Grand Central
·5 Av-Bryant Park
·Times Square
·34 St-Hudson Yards

The 7 Flushing Local is one of two non-shuttle New York City Subway Lines that do not share tracks with any other subway line (not including its diamond peak direction 7 Express counterpart), the other being the L Canarsie Line. The line has 22 stations, 7 are underground, the rest elevated. Trains begin at the ultra-modern 34 Street-Hudson Yards Station, part of a one stop extension (after plans for a 10th Avenue & 42 Street Station were scrapped to save money) that opened in 2005 before trains continue onto the original line that opened between 1916 and 1928. Trains then make 3 station stops connecting with all North-South Subway Midtown Subway Lines beneath 42 Street.

Next, trains cross under the East River into Queens through the extremely narrow Steinway Tunnel. This tunnel was originally designed for trolley service when it was completed in September 1907 but only opened for a week before the city shut it down since the franchise of the New York & Queens Railway to operate through the tunnel had expired in January 1907. The IRT ended up modifying the tunnel for subway operations, although special Steinway Low-V subway cars had to be ordered with extra traction motors because of the steep grades at the Queens end of the Steinway Tunnels. Subway service began as a shuttle between Grand Central and Vernon-Jackson Avenues in 1915. The fact the Steinway Tunnels were originally designed for trolleys means there is zero clearance in the tunnel to do any sort of maintenance when trains are in operation. This requires single track operations during late nights that is part of the 7 train’s regular schedule, and lots of weekend service disruptions when 7 trains operate only elevated and in Queens between Queensboro Plaza and Flushing to perform any kind of maintenance on the Steinway tubes. On most other subway lines late at night staff will do routine maintenance with trains passing slowly through the area, and track workers retreating to small cut-outs and other areas with sufficient clearance to let a train pass.

Continuing into Queens, trains make 2 underground stops in Queens before emerging onto an elevated line. At Queensboro Plaza trains intersect the BMT Astoria Line with a cross-platform transfer. At this unique station the N side of the platform is set back from the tracks more for the wider 10 foot wide IND/BMT, B division cars, and the 7 side of the platform is flush with the 8 foot 9 inches wide IRT, A Division Cars. A non-revenue service track connection on the upper level (just after the station between the Astoria and Flushing-bound tracks) provides the only track connection between the Flushing Line and the rest of the New York City Subway system. IRT cars can operate in non-revenue service along the BMT/IND tracks since they use the same standard track gauge and third rail location; but running with passengers is impossible because there is wide and unsafe, 7 to 8 inch gap between the trains and the platforms. To get IRT subway trains to and from the 7 line (such as when the R62As were transferred from the 7 train back to the 6 train – where they originally operated until the early 2000s - after its R142As were converted into CBTC R188 trainsets for operations on the 7 train) requires a complicated multi-reversing non-revenue train move to track connections between the BMT/IND and rest of the IRT system in the Concourse Yard or 207th Street yard.

The line also had through elevated train service until 1942 over the Queensboro Bridge, with through elevated trains running as far east as Willets Point (wooden elevated cars couldn’t operate underground) and City Hall/South Ferry via the Second Avenue elevated. The BMT also ran its own shuttle trains on the Flushing Line between Queensboro Plaza and Plaza, although through service onto the Broadway Line was impossible to operate because of the different widths of IRT and BMT trains caused by tunnel clearance issues on the IRT.

After leaving Queensboro Plaza, the line becomes an elevated 3 track line the rest of the way to Mets-Willets Point before trains dip underground to the 3 track Flushing-Main Street terminus. In 1939 under ambitious subway expansion plans, trains were proposed to be extended farther into Queens largely following the LIRR Port Washington branch, along with a second branch to College Point. This has never come to fruition with many passengers transferring at Flushing Main Street from 7 trains to buses to reach their final destinations further north and east; or paying the nearly triple fare for the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Washington Branch that has 6 stations in Queens east of its Flushing-Main Street Station, and largely parallels the 7 train. In the event of severe service disruptions the MTA may cross-honor MetroCard’s on the LIRR Port Washington Branch.

For service, 7 local trains operate every 4-6 minutes in the peak direction rush hours, every 2 and a half minutes (the highest frequency of any subway line) in the reverse-peak direction rush hours (nearly all 7 Express trains become 7 local trains for their reverse-peak journey’s back to become another 7 Express train in the peak direction), giving the 7 trains the highest frequency of any New York City subway route. Trains are also the longest in terms of the absolute number of train cars, operating with 11 car trains of 51 foot long cars; although a 10 car 60-foot car or 8 car 75-foot car IND/BMT trainset is longer.

After the full introduction of Communications Based Train Control on November 26, 2018 (the 7 train became the second subway line after the L Canarsie Line), all 7 trains now operate with R188 subway cars. These subway cars either consist of 126 brand-new cars, or 380 cars that were originally part of the R142A fleet that operated on the 4 and 6 trains and were modified with CBTC equipment that takes up space where once tip-up seats were at the ends of each car by the operator cabs. Since the R142As were originally delivered in 5 car trainsets, a new-built R188 ‘B’ car without operator cabs was installed in half of the trainsets to form an 11 car train made up of one 5 car trainset and one 6 car trainset. When riding the Flushing Line it’s very clear which train car is a newly built R188 because it has significantly whiter LED lights compared to the dimmer lights of the R142As that were delivered between 2000 and 2005.

The 7 train is one of the most famous subway lines and operated with ‘Redbird’ cars with larger picture windows (compared to the mainline Redbirds with smaller windows that operated on other IRT lines) delivered in time for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. It was also one of the only subway lines to strip maps in all the cars since these strip-maps were normally accurate since trains were captive to just one line. These cars were the last painted, non-stainless steel subway cars in operation when they were retired from service in 2003. Between the retirement of the Redbirds and the introduction of the CBTC R188 cars, the 7 train operated with 1980s R62A trains that were displaced from the 4 and 6 trains (and have since returned to these subway lines).

Home<New York<NYC Subway<
Flushing Local
NYC Subway
on the SubwayNut

Last Updated: October 16, 2021
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