Three incidents in as many hours on an already-congested stretch of motorway near Bradford caused lengthy tailbacks during this morning's rush-hour.

Two break-downs and a crash near junction 26 of the M62 at Chain Bar led to queues of traffic stretching back to Huddersfield.

The Highways Agency said the disruption started at 6.10am when a heavy goods vehicle broke down.

The tailbacks had not subsided when there was another breakdown involving a car at 7.05am. There was then a single vehicle crash involving a car at 8.45am.

The sequence of incidents intensified the delays already caused by barrier improvement works between J25 at Brighouse and J28 at Tingley.

In recent weeks, the works have led to lane closures and hard shoulder closures, with narrow lanes and a 50mph speed restriction.

Although the unavailability of the hard-shoulder is temporary, hauliers have warned the disruption caused by today's breakdowns could be a sign of things to come when a so-called ‘Managed Motorway’ scheme is introduced.

The Highways Agency is planning to start work in October to open up the hard shoulder as an extra lane to tackle congestion between junctions 25 and 30.

Thomas Crompton, who owns the Bradford plant hire company of the same name, said it was understandable there would be no hard shoulder on a short-term basis during motorway maintenance works, but he said getting rid of the hard shoulder on a permanent basis was not the right solution because broken-down vehicles would have nowhere to go.

Judith Hodgson, who has operated Hodgson Haulage in Clayton for 18 years, said: “We only had one vehicle caught up in the disruption this morning, but I think it’s the sort of thing that will happen more and more if they allow vehicles to drive on the hard shoulder on a permanent basis.”

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “With the Managed Motorway scheme, there will be refuge areas which vehicles will be able to use “Today, even if there had been a hard shoulder, one of the vehicles completely gave up the ghost and could not be moved.”