Labour has renewed its call to renationalise Britain's railways amid protests across the UK over new fare hikes.

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald, fresh from demonstrating outside London King's Cross on Tuesday (3 January) morning, told IBTimes UK that "enough was enough".

"We've got a failing franchise system and we need to have a complete and utter rethink," he said.

"[Labour] would be taking each and every franchise back under public control, public ownership as and when those franchises are up for renewal or earlier, be it by break clause or default."

He argued that money was "leeching out" of the system to private companies.

McDonald's warning comes a day after an average 2.3% rail fare increase came into force, with the government using the Retail Price Index to set regulated fares at 1.9%.

Labour research claimed passengers have faced an average fare rise of more than £2,000 ($2,456) since 2010. But McDonald would not commit to a rail fare reduction under a Labour government.

"At the very least, we should be looking to establish a rail fares freeze – that's got to be the objective – because the fares will continue to rise," he said.

The left-winger also pointed to research from the Transport for Quality of Life campaign, which estimated in 2015 that season tickets could be 10% cheaper by 2017 if routes were taken into public ownership.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been forced to defend the rail fare hikes. "We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for more than a century, providing more seats and services," the top Conservative said.

"We have always fairly balanced the cost of this investment between the taxpayer and the passenger."

The fare protests come ahead of a week-long strike from Southern train drivers and conductors from 9 January.

The workers are represented by transport unions Aslef and RMT, which are protesting as part of a long-running dispute over the future role of rail guards on the franchise.

The row has led to travel misery for hundreds of thousands of commuters in the south of England. McDonald has called for a moratorium on Southern's plans in a bid to resolve the dispute.

"I'm constantly trying to move things along in my discussions with the parties that will engage," he said.

"What I'm trying to secure is a pause – a moratorium, a breathing space – to allow people to step back and just acknowledge that this is a genuine safety crucial issue that needs to be addressed."

Aslef and the RMT have strong links to the Labour leadership. While the RMT is not affiliated with the party, it donated £25,000 towards leader Jeremy Corbyn's latest election campaign.

A Southern spokesperson said: "We very much hope Aslef will call off this strike but if they don't, we're working hard to see what we can do to help passengers. We will be communicating those plans as soon as they are finalised."