According to The Detroit News, there are about 180,000 new vehicles waiting to be transported by rail in North America at the moment. In a normal year, it would be about 69,000. The complications have been industry-wide. Toyota, General Motors, Honda and Ford all reported experiencing some delays, and Chrysler recently had hundreds of minivans sitting on the Detroit waterfront waiting to be shipped out.
The problem is twofold for automakers. First, the fracking boom in the Bakken oil field in the Plains and Canada is monopolizing many locomotives. Second, the long, harsh winter is still causing major delays in freight train travel. The bad weather forced trains to slow down and carry less weight, which caused a backup of goods to transport. The auto companies resorted to moving some vehicles by truck, which was a less efficient but necessary option.
Now, things are finally starting to improve. The weather is warming, and the freight industry is putting more trains on the rails. According to The Detroit News, shipments will finally get back on track to normal in early July. That will give automakers a few months reprieve before the snow will begin falling again.