The 7 Flushing Local and <7> Flushing Express are two rapid transit services in the New York City Subway's A Division, providing local and express services along the full length of the IRT Flushing Line. Their route emblems, or "bullets", is colored purple since they operate on the Flushing Line in Manhattan.
Local service is denoted by a (7) in a circular bullet, and express service is denoted by a <7> in a diamond-shaped bullet; on the R62A cars, this is written as the <7> Express on the front sign. Rollsigns on the R62A cars also feature LED signs around the service logo to indicate local or express service to riders; a green circle for 7 local trains, and a red diamond for <7> trains.
Both services operate between Main Street in Flushing, Queens and 34th Street–Hudson Yards in Chelsea, Manhattan. Local service operates at all times, while express service runs only during rush hours and early evenings in the peak direction and during special events.
On June 13, 1915, the first test train on the IRT Flushing Line ran between Grand Central and Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue, followed by the start of revenue service on June 22. Over the next thirteen years, the line was extended piece by piece between 34th Street–Hudson Yards and Flushing–Main Street, after the former opened on March 14, 1927. Express service started in 1917. The service on the Flushing Line east of Queensboro Plaza was shared by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation from 1912 to 1949.
From the mid-1980s to the late 2000s, the IRT Flushing Line was completely overhauled for improvements, including the installation of new tracks, new signals, repair of station structures, station rehabilitation, and to improve line infrastructure. The major element was the replacement of rails on the Queens Boulevard viaduct. This was necessitated because the subway was allowed to deteriorate during the 1970s and early 80s to the point that there were widespread "Code Red" defects on the Flushing Line, and there were some pillars holding elevated structures that were so shaky that trains wouldn't run if the wind exceeded 65 mph. ⟨7⟩ express service was suspended for the duration of the project; however, extra 7 service was provided for Mets games and Flushing Meadows Park events. Upon the completion of the project, ⟨7⟩ express service was restored, but express trains bypassed 61st Street–Woodside because the Transit Authority was concerned about passengers transferring between local and express trains at that station. The stop was added a few months later after pressure from community opposition.
In the mid-1990s, the MTA discovered that the Queens Boulevard viaduct structure was unstable, as rocks that were used to support the tracks as ballast became loose due to poor drainage, which, in turn, affected the integrity of the concrete structure overall. ⟨7⟩ express service was suspended again between 61st Street–Woodside and Queensboro Plaza; temporary platforms were installed to access the express track in the four intermediate stations. The work began in April 1993. When the viaduct reconstruction finished on March 31, 1997, full ⟨7⟩ express service was reinstated. Throughout this entire period, ridership grew steadily. In 1999, ⟨7⟩ express service was expanded from rush hours and early evenings only to weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. However, this expansion was cut back in 2009 due to the Flushing Line having less ridership and demands on middays for express service.
The 7 is nicknamed the "International Express" in part because it travels through several different ethnic neighborhoods populated by immigrants, especially along Roosevelt Avenue, and in part because it was the principal subway route to the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. This name is not official, nor is the title used in day-to-day operations.