The body that oversees the UK's railways is to take over the South Eastern franchise from Sunday.
The handover is seven weeks ahead of schedule
The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) stripped French firm Connex of the service in June because of poor financial management.
The SRA had previously said Connex would continue running the Kent and Sussex services until the end of 2003.
It is hoped a new private firm will be found to take over the region's services by 2005.
SRA will run the network via a wholly-owned subsidiary, South Eastern Trains.
The change will happen at 0200 GMT, and posters and leaflets have been printed to inform passengers of the new arrangements.
South Eastern Trains said its priority was to "provide stability" for passengers for the next
year, while "striving to improve the quality and reliability of the service and
maintain the current high safety standards".
Managing director Michael Holden, former Connex South Eastern managing director, said: "My plan for the
next 12 months is simple: to get it right, first time, more often.
"The only way it can be achieved is to focus the whole organisation tightly
on the relentless, repetitive detail of our operation, day-in, day-out."
The franchise covers Kent, south London and parts of East Sussex
Connex said it was glad the handover had been completed seven weeks ahead of schedule.
And it apologised to customers for any disruption the handover negotiations may have caused.
It said they had, at times, "distracted Connex staff from
the work being done to bring in the new trains, and from focusing on performance
during this challenging time of year".
Three thousand staff
Connex chief executive Olivier Brousse said: "This ends a period of confusion
between two different companies with two different visions for our railway."
Edward Funnell, spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies,
said: "We are pleased a smooth handover has been concluded".
The SRA's move to take control of the franchise will put a government body in charge of train operations for the first time since the railways were privatised.
But chairman Richard Bowker said
the temporary takeover was not a step toward
renationalising Britain's railway.
The South Eastern franchise has 182 stations and
3,000 staff across Kent, south London and parts of East Sussex.
It runs about 1,700 train services a day, 1,400 of which go
into London. About 120,000 people a day commute into the capital on its trains during the week.
The SRA says the validity of tickets and frontline
staff will not change.
The franchise will eventually include high-speed commuter trains on the new line to the Channel Tunnel and be known as the Integrated Kent Franchise.