IRT Flushing Line

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IRT Flushing Line
The 7 train serves the entire IRT Flushing Line at all times. The 7 Express train serves the entire IRT Flushing Line during rush hours in the peak direction.
Type Rapid transit
System New York City Subway
Termini Flushing – Main Street
Times Square (current)
34th Street (November 2014)
Stations 21 (current)
22 (November 2014)[1]
Daily ridership 711,296 [2]
Opening 1915-1928 (between Times Square and Flushing – Main Street)
November 2014 (between 34th Street and Times Square)
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Character Underground (Manhattan, Western Queens and Main Street)
Elevated (Most of Queens)
No. of tracks 2-5
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 625 V DC third rail

The Flushing Line is a rapid transit route of the New York City Subway system, operated as part of the IRT Division and designated the 7 route. It runs from Flushing in Queens to Times Square in Manhattan, carrying trains of the 7 local service (as well as the express <7> rush hours in the peak direction), and is shown in the color raspberry on station signs, the official subway map, and route signs on the front and sides of the subway cars. Before the line was opened all the way to Flushing, it was known as the Corona Line or Woodside and Corona Line. Prior to the discontinuance of BMT services in 1949, the portion of the IRT Flushing Line between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza was known as the Queensboro Line. Express trains run to Manhattan from 06:00 am to 10:00 am (6:00 to 10:00 ET) and from Manhattan from 3:00 pm to 9:30 pm (15:00 to 21:30 ET). Express service is also provided during New York Mets games and U.S. Open matches.

The Flushing Line has various styles of architecture, which range from steel girder elevated structures to European-style concrete viaducts. The underground stations have some unique designs as well, such as Hunters Point Avenue, which is in an Italianate style and Grand Central – 42nd Street, which is a single round tube similar to a London Underground station.

Extent and service[edit]

Queens Boulevard viaduct

Services that use the Flushing Line are colored raspberry. The following services use part or all of the Flushing Line:

Service Time period
Rush hours,
peak direction
Other times
NYCS 7 Local Full line
NYCS 7d Express Full line No service

The line has two distinct sections, split by the Queensboro Plaza station. It begins as a three-track subway, with the center track used for express service, at Flushing – Main Street. It quickly leaves the ground onto a steel elevated structure above Roosevelt Avenue, passing Citi Field and the USTA National Tennis Center. A flying junction between Mets – Willets Point and 111th Street provides access to Corona Yard from the local tracks. At 48th Street in Sunnyside, the line switches to Queens Boulevard and an ornate concrete viaduct begins. The express track ends between 33rd Street – Rawson Street and Queensboro Plaza.

At Queensboro Plaza, the eastbound track (railroad north) is above the westbound track, with both Flushing Line tracks on the south side of the island platforms. On the north side of these platforms is the BMT Astoria Line. East of this point, both the Flushing Line and the Astoria Line were operated by the IRT and the BMT; details on that dual operation are in the Background section. Connections still exist between the eastbound tracks just east of the platforms, but they cannot be used for revenue service because BMT trains are wider than IRT trains. This is the only track connection between the Flushing Line and the rest of the subway system.

West of Queensboro Plaza, the line immediately turns south onto an elevated structure over 23rd Street. It heads into the west end of Amtrak's Sunnyside Yard, and passes through two underground stations before entering Manhattan via the Steinway Tunnel under the East River. In Manhattan, the line runs under 42nd Street, with part directly underneath the 42nd Street Shuttle (S train), before angling towards 41st Street and ending at the huge Times Square – 42nd Street station, with no track connections to other lines.

The extension of the Flushing Line west to Manhattan's Far West Side is scheduled to open to the public in late summer/early fall 2014, delayed from the scheduled opening of June 2014.[3] A decommissioned lower level at the IND Eighth Avenue Line's 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal station formerly blocked the way; it had been rumored that the IND built it to keep the IRT from extending the Flushing Line, although all initial blueprints indicate that the IRT never planned such an expansion. While some have questioned the necessity of the plan, with London receiving the 2012 Summer Olympics, the city pursued it as a means to enable the redevelopment of the far West Side. As of August 2013, the extension was 90% complete.

The Flushing Line is one of only two New York City non-shuttle subway lines that hosts only a single service and does not share operating trackage with any other line or service; the other is the BMT Canarsie Line, carrying the L service. Because of this, there are plans to automate the line with new trains using communication-based train control (CBTC), similar to the Canarsie Line.

The IRT Flushing Line has the distinction of running the longest trains on the New York City Subway, by number of cars. Flushing Line trains are eleven cars long; most other New York City Subway services run ten or eight-car trains. The trains are not the longest by total length, however. An IND/BMT train of ten 60-foot (18 m)-long cars, which is 600 feet (180 m) long, is still 39 feet (12 m) longer than an IRT train of eleven 51.4-foot (15.7 m)-long cars, which is 561 feet (171 m) long.


IRT Flushing Line
LIRR Port Washington Branch
Flushing – Main Street/ LIRR at Flushing Main Street
Former LIRR Whitestone Branch
Mets – Willets Point/ LIRR at Mets – Willets Point
Corona Yard and approaches
111th Street
103rd Street – Corona Plaza
Junction Boulevard
90th Street – Elmhurst Avenue
82nd Street – Jackson Heights
LIRR Main Line
74th Street – Broadway IND Queens Boulevard Line
69th Street
61st Street – Woodside LIRR at Woodside
52nd Street
46th Street – Bliss Street
40th Street – Lowery Street
33rd Street – Rawson Street
LIRR Main Line
IND Queens Boulevard Line
Queensboro Plaza/ BMT Astoria Line
60th Street Tunnel Connection to BMT Broadway Line
former connection to the IRT Second Avenue Line
Court Square – 23rd Street / IND Queens Boulevard Line
Handicapped/disabled access Court Square
IND Crosstown Line
Former Inspection Track (1917–1928)
Hunters Point Avenue
IND Crosstown Line
Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue
Steinway Tunnel
Grand Central/ IRT Lexington Avenue Line
42nd Street / Fifth Avenue – Bryant Park/ IND Sixth Avenue Line
Handicapped/disabled access BMT Broadway Line
Handicapped/disabled access Times Square/ IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line / IRT 42nd Street Shuttle
Handicapped/disabled access IND Eighth Avenue Line
34th Street (under construction)

The earliest origins of the Flushing Line emerged on February 25, 1885, with the construction of the East River Tunnel Railroad, with an objective to connect the Long Island Rail Road with the New York Central railroads. Although a such a plan was studied, no action was taken upon the plan, and the railroad was redesignated as the New York and Long Island Railroad Company in 1887. To run from West 42nd Street and Tenth Avenue to Van Alst Avenue after crossing under the East River, the remainder of the line was planned to be constructed on private lands; as such, numerous alterations were made to the proposal. In 1890, William Steinway advised the company to utilize electricity to power the tunnels, believing that the construction of the tunnel would increase the value of his properties within the vicinity. On June 3, 1892, building of the tunnel commenced near the intersection of 50th Avenue and Vernon and Jackson Avenues; however, several failures and hindrances, which included an underground spring preventing the extraction of rubble, resulted in the termination of the project on February 2, 1893. Several calls for the resumption of the project between 1893 and 1896, in addition to a proposed extension to New Jersey, were futile.[4][5][6][7]

Queensboro Plaza and beyond[edit]

NYCS 7 Train of R36 "Redbird" cars at 33rd Street – Rawson Street northbound; prior to their retirement

At Queensboro Plaza, the line met the BMT's 60th Street Tunnel, as well as a spur from the elevated IRT Second Avenue Line on the Queensboro Bridge. From this point east, the Flushing and Astoria Lines were built by the City of New York as part of the Dual Contracts. They were officially IRT lines on which the BMT held irrevocable and equal trackage rights. Because BMT trains were wider, and the platforms had been built for the IRT, normal BMT trains ran only to Queensboro Plaza, with a transfer to shuttles, using elevated cars, that alternated between the Astoria – Ditmars Boulevard and Flushing – Main Street terminals. IRT trains simply continued from the Queensboro Line and Queensboro Bridge onto the lines to Astoria and Flushing, originally called the Corona Line or Woodside and Corona Line before it was completed to Flushing.

The line was opened from Queensboro Plaza to 103rd Street – Corona Plaza on April 21, 1917.[8] BMT shuttles began to use the line (and the BMT Astoria Line) on April 8, 1923.[9] East of there, sources conflict on when each section opened. A New York Times article from May 8 reports that service began on May 7 to what is now the Mets – Willets Point station, and mentions delays due to the structure sinking.[10] Articles from May 13 and May 15 cover a celebration to coincide with the opening to the Willets Point stop on May 14.[11][12] Finally, a January 22, 1928 article reports that the line had ended at 103rd Street–Corona Plaza until January 21; the extension had been finished over a year earlier but had to be strengthened due to structural problems.[13]

Flushing – Main Street was not originally intended to be the end of the line. The Public Service Commission, in June 1913, was actively engaged in considering extensions of the line beyond Flushing, but these extensions, later planned as part of a large system expansion, were never built.

Currently and historically, IRT subway services on the Flushing Line were assigned the number 7, though this did not appear on any equipment until the introduction of the R12 class cars in 1948. The BMT services were assigned the BMT number 9, used on maps but not trains.

Western extensions were also built, with part underneath the 42nd Street Shuttle:

For the 1939 New York World's Fair, the Mets – Willets Point station was rebuilt and centered on 123rd Street, just west of where the station originally lay. Some remnants of the old station are still visible; ironwork tends to indicate where the older outside-platform stations were, and the remains of the fare entry area can be seen east of the current station. The original Willets Point Boulevard station was a "minor" stop on the Flushing Line; it had only two stairways and short station canopies at platform level. It was rebuilt into the much larger station in use today, and the ramp used during two World's Fairs still exists, but is only used during special events, such as the US Open (tennis). Express service to the World's Fair began on the Flushing Line on April 24, 1939.[16] This was the first time the middle express track had been used for revenue service; prior to the fair, the express track had only been used for non-revenue moves and re-routes during construction.

Service curtailments in the 1940s–60s[edit]

In 1942, when IRT Second Avenue Line service ended, major overhauls for the Corona fleet were transferred to the Coney Island shop. In addition, free transfers to the IRT Third Avenue Line were offered at Grand Central from June 13, 1942 (when Second Avenue Line service ended, including the Queensboro Bridge connection) until May 12, 1955 (when Third Avenue Line service ended). In the fall of 1949, the joint BMT/IRT service arrangement ended. The Flushing Line became the responsibility of IRT. The Astoria Line had its platforms shaved back, and became BMT-only. Because of this, routes through the then eight-track Queensboro Plaza station were consolidated and the northern half of the structure was later torn down. Evidence of where the torn-down platforms were, as well as the trackways that approached this area, can still be seen in the ironwork at the station. The Flushing Line's extra-long platforms, which allow for 11-car operation, are also a remnant of the joint service period.

Decline and rehabilitation, 1970s–80s[edit]

As with the rest of the system, the IRT Flushing Line was allowed to deteriorate throughout the 1970s to the late 1980s. Structural defects in the subway that required immediate attention at the time were labeled as "Code Red defects: or "Red Tag" areas; these "Code Red" defects were numerous on the Flushing Line. Some columns that supported elevated structures on the Flushing Line were so shaky that trains would not run if the wind exceeded 65 miles per hour (105 km/h). This was particularly widespread on the Flushing Line, as well as the BMT Jamaica Line.

On May 13, 1985, a 412-year long project to overhaul the IRT Flushing Line commenced. It forced single tracking much of the line on weekends, and the complete elimination of express service for the duration of the project. Consequently, the MTA advertised this change by putting leaflets in the New York Times, the Staten Island Advance, the Daily News and Newsday. The project would lay new track, replace or repair concrete and steel structures, replace wooden station canopies with aluminum ones, improve lighting, improve signage, and install new ventilation and pumping equipment. Expanded service would be provided when the Mets played home games or when there were sporting events in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. Paradoxically, Flushing local trains had better on-time performance during the construction than before it started.

The $60 million rehabilitation project on the Queens Boulevard concrete viaduct ended on August 21, 1989. When Flushing express service was restored, trains no longer stopped at 61st Street – Woodside. This led to protests to get express service back at 61st Street station. The reason for the stop's discontinuance on the Flushing express was because the MTA felt it took too long to transfer between locals and expresses. The service was also due to fears of delays on the line when locals and expresses would merge after 33rd Street – Rawson Street. The change was supposed to enable local trains to stop at 61st Street every four minutes (15 trains per hour (tph)) during rush hours, but the trains really arrived every 8–10 minutes (or 6–8 tph), according to riders. The community opposition led to service changes, and expresses began stopping at Woodside a few months later.[17]

Automation of the line, 2000s–2010s[edit]

In January 2012, the MTA began installing a communications-based train control (CBTC) system as part of the plan to automate the line. This was the second installation of CBTC following the BMT Canarsie Line.

The Flushing Line was chosen for the next implementation of CBTC because it is also a self-contained line with no direct connections to other subway lines currently in use. Funding was allocated in the 2010–2014 capital budget for CBTC installation on the Flushing Line, with scheduled installation completion in 2016.[18] The R188 cars were ordered to equip the line with compatible rolling stock. CBTC on the line will allow the 7 <7> services to run 2 more trains per hour (tph) during peak hours (it currently runs 27 tph). However, the system is currently retrofitted to operate at 33 tph even without CBTC.[19]

The first train of R188 cars began operating in passenger service on November 9, 2013.[20][21]

Future extension westward[edit]

The IRT Flushing Line is being extended westward and southward in Manhattan, expected to be completed in late summer/early fall of 2014, delayed from the planned opening in June 2014.[22][23] There will be only one new station at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue to serve Jacob Javits Convention Center; formerly there was another station under construction at Tenth Avenue and 41st Street. Funding is in place and construction began in late 2007.

History of rolling stock on the line[edit]


In 1938, an order of all-new World's Fair cars was placed with the St. Louis Car Company. These cars broke from IRT "tradition" in that they did not have vestibules at each car end. In addition, because the IRT was bankrupt at the time, the cars were built as single ended cars, with train controls for the motorman on one side and door controls for the conductor on the other. These cars spent their last days on the elevated IRT Third Avenue Line in The Bronx.

Not to be outdone, the BMT rebuilt 90 open gate cars into closed-end cars that became known as the Q Types (named because they operated in Queens). The Q Types were built as three car sets, and only the cars at the ends were fitted with traction motors and motorman controls. For the World's Fair, the equipment was repainted in the now famous blue and orange, the World's Fair colors. In 1949, nine years after the closing of the Fair, the BMT Q Types were moved to the elevated IRT Third Avenue Line in Manhattan using old IRT Composite car trucks, and ran only as expresses, because their weight was a bit too high for the older, local tracks. Therefore, the last BMT-designed car ran on the last IRT elevated in Manhattan. Like BMT Q-types replacing the older gate cars that rode on the line for the opening of the 1939 New York World's Fair, the procedure would be repeated again when, in 1964, the picture window R36 World's Fair cars replaced the older R15's for the 1964 New York World's Fair.

R33/R36 WFs[edit]

The R33 and R36 World's Fair cars served the Flushing Line exclusively from 1964 until 2002. Most cars have been scrapped and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean as artificial barrier and coral reefs. On November 3, 2003, the last Redbird train made its final scheduled trip on this line, making all stops between Times Square and Willets Point – Shea Stadium (now known as Mets – Willets Point).[24]


Replacing these cars on this line are the Bombardier-built R62A series. Currently, all of the R62As on the 7 have been upgraded with LED lighted signs to distinguish between express and local trains. Originally, however, the R62As on the Flushing Line were built like main line R62As—without any LED displays on the rollsigns to distinguish between local trains and express trains. These signs are located on the rollsigns that are found on the side of each car. The local is a green circle around the 7 service bullet while the express is a red diamond. Previously, the rollsigns showed either a 7 within a circle or a 7 within a diamond with the word "Express" underneath it. They will be replaced by R188 subway cars through 2016, due to the automation of the line. In addition to providing six extra 11-car trains for the 7 Subway Extension, the R188s will allow twenty R62A expansion cars to be freed up for the other seven IRT services.

Station listing[edit]

Station service legend
Stops all times Stops all times
Stops all times except late nights Stops all times except late nights
Stops late nights and weekends Stops late nights and weekends only
Stops weekdays only Stops weekdays only
Stops rush hours in peak direction only Stops rush hours in the peak direction only
Time period details
Handicapped/disabled access Station Tracks Services Opened Transfers and notes
Begins as a three track line
Flushing Handicapped/disabled access Flushing – Main Street[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction January 21, 1928[26] Connection to LIRR at Flushing – Main Street
originally Main Street
Willets Point Handicapped/disabled access[27][28] Mets – Willets Point[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction January 21, 1928[26] Connection to LIRR at Mets – Willets Point (special events only)
formerly Willets Point–Shea Stadium
originally Willets Point Boulevard
Corona connecting tracks to Corona Yard
111th Street[25] local 7 all times January 21, 1928[26]
103rd Street – Corona Plaza[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] originally Alburtis Avenue
Handicapped/disabled access Junction Boulevard[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction April 21, 1917[8] originally Junction Avenue
Elmhurst 90th Street – Elmhurst Avenue[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] originally Elmhurst Avenue
Jackson Heights 82nd Street – Jackson Heights[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] originally 25th Street–Jackson Heights
Handicapped/disabled access 74th Street – Broadway[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] E all times F all times M weekdays until 11:00 p.m. R all hours except late nights (IND Queens Boulevard Line at Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Avenue)
originally Broadway
Woodside 69th Street[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] originally Fisk Avenue
Handicapped/disabled access 61st Street – Woodside[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction April 21, 1917[8] originally Woodside
Connection to LIRR at Woodside
52nd Street[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] originally Lincoln Avenue
Sunnyside 46th Street – Bliss Street[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] originally Bliss Street
40th Street – Lowery Street[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] originally Lowery Street
33rd Street – Rawson Street[25] local 7 all times April 21, 1917[8] originally Rawson Street
Center Express track ends
connecting tracks to BMT Astoria Line (No regular service)
Long Island City Queensboro Plaza[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction November 5, 1916[7] N all times Q weekdays (BMT Astoria Line)
Handicapped/disabled access Court Square[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction November 5, 1916[7] originally 45th Road – Court House Square
G all times (IND Crosstown Line)
E all times M weekdays until 11:00 p.m. (IND Queens Boulevard Line)
Hunters Point Avenue[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction February 15, 1916[6] Connection to LIRR at Hunterspoint Avenue
Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction June 22, 1915[5] originally Vernon-Jackson Avenues
Connection to LIRR at Long Island City
Steinway Tunnel under the East River
Midtown Manhattan Handicapped/disabled access Grand Central[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction June 22, 1915[5] 4 all times 5 all except late nights 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
S all except late nights (IRT 42nd Street Shuttle)
Connection to Metro-North Railroad at Grand Central Terminal
Fifth Avenue[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction March 22, 1926[14] B weekdays until 11:00 p.m. D all times F all times M weekdays until 11:00 p.m. (IND Sixth Avenue Line at 42nd Street – Bryant Park)
Handicapped/disabled access Times Square[25] all 7 all times <7>rush hours until 10:00 p.m., peak direction March 14, 1927[15] N all times Q all times R all except late nights (BMT Broadway Line)
1 all times 2 all times 3 all times (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line)
A all times C all except late nights E all times (IND Eighth Avenue Line at 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal)
S all except late nights (IRT 42nd Street Shuttle)
Port Authority Bus Terminal
7 Subway Extension (opens late 2014)
Hell's Kitchen Handicapped/disabled access 34th Street[29] under construction


  1. ^ 7 line extension opening now projected for November
  2. ^ MTA. "Average weekday subway ridership". Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Feinman, Mark S.; Darlington, Peggy; Pirmann, David. "IRT Flushing Line". Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Queensboro Tunnel Officially Opened". The New York Times. June 23, 1915. p. 22. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  6. ^ a b "Subway Extension Open". The New York Times. February 16, 1916. p. 22. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  7. ^ a b c "New Subway Link". The New York Times. November 5, 1916. p. XX4. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Transit Service on Corona Extension of Dual Subway System Opened to the Public". The New York Times. April 22, 1917. p. RE1. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  9. ^ "Additional Subway Service to Borough of Queens". The New York Times. April 8, 1923. p. RE1. 
  10. ^ "Corona Subway Extended". The New York Times. May 8, 1927. p. 26. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  11. ^ "Flushing to Celebrate". The New York Times. May 13, 1927. p. 8. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  12. ^ "Dual Queens Celebration". The New York Times. May 15, 1927. p. 3. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  13. ^ "Flushing Rejoices as Subway Opens". The New York Times. January 22, 1928. p. 28. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  14. ^ a b "Fifth Av. Station of Subway Opened". The New York Times. March 23, 1926. p. 29. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  15. ^ a b "New Queens Subway Opened to Times Sq.". The New York Times. March 15, 1927. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  16. ^ "Fast Subway Service to Fair Is Opened". The New York Times. April 25, 1939. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  17. ^ The New York Transit Authority in the 1980s
  18. ^ Pages 11–12
  19. ^
  20. ^ Mann, Ted. "MTA Tests New Subway Trains on Flushing Line". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  21. ^ New Subway Cars Being Put to the Test
  22. ^ "MTA's 7 Line Extension Project Pushed Back Six Months". NY1. June 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  23. ^ Cuozzo, Steve (June 5, 2012). "No. 7 train 6 mos. late". New York Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  24. ^ Luo, Michael (November 4, 2003). "Let Go, Straphangers. The Ride Is Over.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "MTA/New York City Transit Subway Line Information". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  26. ^ a b c "Flushing Line Opens Jan. 21". The New York Times. January 12, 1928. p. 12. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  27. ^ Only the Flushing-bound local side platform is wheelchair-accessible. Trains operate on this platform only during New York Mets games and other special events.
  28. ^ "Mets - Willets Point Station: Accessibility on game days and special events only". New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009. 
  29. ^ "7 Line Extension". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 

External links[edit]