A COMMUTER says the "ridiculous" closure of a Lewisham station exit ramps up journey times into central London.

Platform 4’s side entrance was open for the last time on Sunday after train company Southeastern sealed the exit.

A Southeastern spokesman told News Shopper the decision was made to improve safety after a number of near misses between passing cars and pedestrians leaving the gate.

But passenger Paul Speller says the closure adds extra precious minutes to Lewisham commuters living on the opposite side of the station's main entrance off Station Road.

The 34-year-old, who lives in Conington Road - close to the former side exit - said: "It is ridiculous.

"On this side you have new residential developments - more than 500 flats have gone up here on the opposite side – if you could enter on that side it would save us half the walk.

"Most people are travelling from Lewisham and going straight to London – a 10 to 15 minute at most - but having that gate shut increases their journey time by a third or a half."

Mr Speller went on to say that during initial consultations rail providers promised to replace the exit - which had been downgraded to only open between 4pm to 7pm from Monday to Friday - with a lift.

He added: "I rarely use the gate at present as its limited hours don't fit with my commute, but would use a proper exit a lot."

A spokesman for Southeastern said: "As part of the station improvement programme, Lewisham station was gated with automatic barriers several years ago but due to lack of space we were unable to install barriers at this exit.

"The exit also leads directly out to a busy road and there have been a number of near misses with pedestrians and passing cars, so a decision was taken to close the gate permanently.

"We consulted with stakeholders regarding the proposal to close the gate and the decision has been approved by the Department for Transport."