Trevor Kempsell had to wait nearly two hours to be released after he became trapped in a lift at Banbury Station.
After being told repeatedly over the emergency alarm that an engineer would be there in 15 minutes, Mr Kempsell called his son in desperation when he began to panic.
Son Sam, who lives in Longford Park, went down to the station and was also told an engineer was on his way. He called the fire service.
"My Dad is recovering from cancer and he was feeling scared. He had been left alone in the lift which was suspended above ground," said Mr Kempsell.
"There were three staff sitting in a room and they told me the same thing they had told my father every quarter of an hour from the beginning - someone would be there to fix the lift in 15 minutes. I was able to at least stand near my Dad to talk to him.
"When the fire service got there they asked the Chiltern staff why they had not called them as they hold a key for the station's lifts. Chiltern staff told the fire officer it wasn't their policy. But if they had called, my father could have been let out very quickly."
Trevor Kempsell was on his way back to the USA following a holiday with his son and grandchildren in Banbury.
Chiltern Railways is investigating the incident and has promised to report back to the Banbury Guardian as soon as possible.