This may be surprising, but the recent transition of Rift to a free to play model has brought in swarms of new and returning players. As a result, the most populated servers have hit their breaking point resulting in long queues. In response to player complaints, Trion has been working to increase server queues and optimization, with some of those updates coming tomorrow, Friday.
I did raise server caps ever so slightly this evening which completely removed the queue on a number of servers. They may be able to go up further this weekend – our engineers were able to find a number of optimizations based on today’s load on the servers. We hope to have those optimizations up potentially on Friday. The % impact of the optimization is not yet known.
There are also plans in place for Trion to be able to lock character creation on the fly.
(Source: Rift Forums)