Drivers using the controversial M62 smart motorway are saving up to 30 minutes each week on journey times – despite a rise in the number of people using the route.

Highways England claimed the £316m scheme, which operates between Brighouse and Rothwell and was completed in 2013, was succeeding in its aim of delivering better journeys for motorists in the busiest periods.

People travelling westbound in the evening towards Brighouse are saving almost five minutes each day, according to official statistics.

Stock Pics: M62 motorway junction 25 near Brighouse.

Figures also show that journey time savings have been achieved as the number of drivers using the 15.5 mile stretch of the M62 between junction 25 at Brighouse and junction 30 at Rothwell, has increased.

An average of 155,000 vehicles now use the busiest stretch of the route between junction 26 (Chain Bar) at Bradford and junction 27 for the M621 every day – an increase of 6% on the total before the smart motorway was introduced.

Watch: The journey to Huddersfield along the M62

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The figures were published after Chancellor George Osborne announced in his budget that new work to upgrade the M62 to a four-lane smart motorway from junctions 25 to junction 20 at Rochdale, would be accelerated.

Delivering better journey times for drivers in West Yorkshire is a key part of the government’s plan to create a Northern Powerhouse.

Roger Wantling, service delivery team leader for Highways England, said: “These latest figures show that the smart motorway really is making a difference to people’s lives, saving commuters an average of 30 minutes a week which works out at over a day a year.

“The smart motorway helps tackle the stop-start conditions many of us have experienced in the past, using the variable speed limits and opening up the hard shoulder on parts of the M62 during busy times to target congestion.

“This first year study into the impact of the scheme shows it’s had significant benefits for journey times as well as improving safety and benefiting the wider economy.”

The smart motorway uses latest technology to monitor traffic levels and variable speed limits are displayed on overhead electronic signs to keep vehicles moving.

CCTV is used 24 hours a day to enable staff in Highways England’s regional control centre in Wakefield to respond quickly to incidents, closing lanes using red “Xs” on overhead signs if necessary. Drivers using the M62 can also use emergency refuge areas if they break down.

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However, some motorists have expressed concern about breaking down on a motorway with no hard shoulder, the distances between safety refuges and whether monitoring systems would protect them in the event of stopping in a running lane.