In a statement to the Stock Exchange the firm said it no longer had the support of its banks and could not "continue trading as a going concern."
Jarvis employs 2000 people mainly on rail and freight maintenance projects.
Trading in its shares was suspended at 9.4p after the announcement.
The company recently won a £55m contract to upgrading Chiltern Railway's lines.
But it said that it had been hit by "the very considerable reductions in rail and plant work volumes." In the half year to last October Jarvis made a pre-tax loss of £3.6m. Last month it had debts of £12.6m.
Once valued at more than £1bn the company was worth just over £20m when share trading halted.
The company admitted liability for the fatal 2002 Potters Bar Rail crash and is chaired by former Conservative minister Steven Norris.