Joe W. Grotegut, 60, assistant vice president for information and public affairs at the Association of American Railroads died Friday after a heart attack while on a train to Orange, Va., where he had a weekend home.

Mr. Grotegut, who was appointed to his latest position April 1, 1976, had worked for the AAR in public relations for the previous seven years.

Earlier he had been a newpaper man for many years, and was city editor of the Tampa, Fla., Daily Times at the age of 21. He also worked for the Associated Press in Atlanta, for the Miami Herald, and as managing editor and editor of the editorial page of the Daytona Beach (Fla.) Morning Journal, where he won numerous awards.

he was active in Florida politics and in the state government as a key aide to former Gov. LeRoy Collins.

Mr. Grotegut was also a public relations official for Eastern Airlines and president and general manager of a printing company in Florida.

He was a native of Illinois, and he attended the University of Florida.

Survivors include his wife Louise, and four children, John and Martha, of the family home in the District, and Helena Sims, of Tallahassee, Fla., and Donald J., of Carlsbad, N.M.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Heart Association.