Federal regulators were very concerned about safety on New Jersey transit this spring and regulators were preparing a consent decree in the months before Thursday's deadly train crash in Hoboken, a source close to the investigation told NBC News Saturday.
A woman was killed and more than 100 people were injured when the commuter train slammed into the station during the morning rush hour.
In June inspectors began an investigation into the safety at New Jersey Transit, and found dozens of violations, the source said.
Over the course of the summer federal regulators were preparing a consent decree, ordering New Jersey transit to take certain immediate steps to address safety issues.
The cause of the deadly crash is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
One federal source said investigators are still largely puzzled as to why the train entered the Hoboken station at such a high rate of speed. So far, investigators have found no signals that were dysfunctional at the time of the crash, and an inspection of the tracks found nothing that might have affected the train.
Crews haven't been able to gain access to the front cab of the wrecked train — where an event recorder and an outward-facing camera are trapped — because the station the train crashed into suffered too much structural damage and the asbestos levels are too high, federal sources told NBC News.
Also Saturday, The Associated Press reported that Federal Railroad Administration records show New Jersey Transit paid more than $500,000 to settle federal safety violations since 2011.
The violations ranged from employee drug and alcohol use to violations of railroad operating rules or practice, the AP reported.
The woman who was killed in the crash was standing on the platform when the speeding train slammed into the station. Survivors said the train crashed without warning.
Investigators are expected to be at the site of the crash for at least another week.