The West Gate Freeway at Kings Way.

A seven car pile up accident on the West Gate Freeway at Kings Way east bound. Several people were taken to hospital. Photograph Paul Jeffers The Age NEWS June 1st 2014. Photo: Paul Jeffers

Three people are in hospital after a string of crashes that included a 12-car pile-up and caused traffic chaos across the city.

Trouble started just before midday on Sunday, when a three-car crash took place near the CityLink overpass on the West Gate Freeway, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.  

Twelve cars then hit nose-to-tail nearby, closing all inbound lanes on the West Gate and forcing traffic to divert through the Todd Road exit.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman Ray Rowe said two people, including a woman in her 30s, were taken to The Alfred hospital in stable conditions. 

A child, believed to be about  five-years-old, was taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital to be treated for bruising and shock.

At a standstill: West Gate Freeway.

At a standstill: West Gate Freeway. Photo: Melle Hatzissavas

Paramedics also treated up to nine people at the scene for minor injuries.

VicRoads traffic management officer Nerryl Kingston said a further crash, involving four cars, happened about 12.30pm just before the Millers Road exit on the West Gate Freeway in Brooklyn.

A two-car smash happened nearby about 15 minutes later. Paramedics treated several people at the scene, but none were transferred to hospital.  

The West Gate was cleared by 2pm but speed reductions remained in place as heavy traffic persisted, Mr Kingston said.

Two inbound lanes of the Tullamarine Freeway were closed when two cars collided near Pascoe Vale Road just after 11am, causing heavy congestion in the area.

About an hour later, a twin-cab ute left the road and crashed into an embankment near the intersection of the Calder and Tullamarine freeways.