The head of the HS2 rail project said building work should start in the North of England at the same time as the South East, which would see high speed trains coming to Leeds by 2030, three years earlier than currently planned.
The £50 billion project will see trains travelling at 250mph, but would only go as far as West Yorkshire, leading to concerns that the North East would lose out economically.
The Northumberland MP Alan Beith said the comments were "good news" but that he would prefer improvements to the East Coast Mainline, which runs between London and Scotland via the North East.
More top news
"I would personally like to thank the local community for their amazing donations of food, toiletries and clothing. "
Owners John and Irene Hays say there is ''light at the end of the tunnel'', after the pandemic forced them to close 650 UK stores.
There has been resistance to calls to dismantle memorials to the explorer.