Railtrack’s promise to invest £27bn in Britain’s railways over the next 10 years was greeted enthusiastically by rail contractors, despite doubts over government funding.

A spokesman for Balfour Beatty, which has carried out almost £300m of work for Railtrack in the past year, and is the largest supplier of contract maintenance services, welcomed the announcement.

“It’s good news. There’s a lot of government commitment to rail as our national transport system and we think the environment at the moment is right to make it happen,” the spokesman said.

Improvements include a £1bn upgrade of the England to Scotland East Coast line and a £2.5bn station modernisation programme to improve security and accessibility.

Railtrack also plans to invest £130m in improving the rail link between London and Stansted Airport.

In addition, almost £16.4bn will be invested in maintenance work over the next 10 years.

However, Railtrack’s chief executive, Gerald Corbett, warned that the investment could not be financed if the rail regulator carried out its threat to cap the company’s profit.

Corbett said any attempt to cap Railtrack would mean its spending programme would have to be cut by about 60%.