Harold Hall joined Southern Railway in 1943 as a depot agent and telegrapher.

Now the chief executive officer of a company that broke profit records in 1981, he climbed the ranks from trainmaster to general manager of both eastern and western lines to vice president of transportation, until he was named president in 1979 and CEO in 1980.

Southern, headquartered in Washington, is awaiting Interstate Commerce Commission approval of its proposed merger with Norfolk and Western Railway, a consolidation Hall has said "will result in a rail network, serving 21 states and part of Ontario, Canada, that will be stronger and more effective than either line could be on its own."

He says the new railroad, which will be called Norfolk Southern Corp., will be able to attract "significant new traffic in coal, grain and piggyback freight," in addition to providing opportunities for diversification, possibly within the transportation industry.

According to industry data that compare the percentage of revenues a company uses to operate its trains, Southern and Norfolk and Western are the two most efficient railroads in the country.

Southern's net income during the first nine months of 1981 was about $160 million, while Norfolk and Western had profits of $197.5 million.