City council voted unanimously in favour of a scaled back $2.1-billion plan to build 12.5 kilometres of light rail from Blair Road to Tunney's Pasture.

"This is a solid plan and what people want us to do is to stop dithering and start digging. They want us to get on with this project," Mayor Jim Watson told CTV Ottawa ahead of Thursday's vote.

The plan has been modified to stay within its $2.1 billion estimate. Changes to the plan include a shallower downtown tunnel beneath Queen Street instead of Albert.

That change means crews won't have to dig as deep, and trains will only be four storeys underground, instead of 12.

The system's 13 train stations will also be less elaborate and will have smaller platforms.

Watson acknowledged that even though the city is working with an estimate of $2.1 billion, the actual cost of the project won't be known until the tendering process is complete.

"I've said all along that we won't know the final bid until the tenders come in, that's how the tendering process works," he said.

"But we have very strong confidence that the numbers we have and the information that we have today tells us that we can bring this project in at $2.1 billion and that's the signal that we're sending certainly to the industry."

When asked if he will make the contract for the winning bid public, Watson said: "Absolutely. All of the numbers will be right out there and that will be debated and that final vote taken by council at that time next year."

Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2013. The light rail system is expected to be complete by 2018.