A consortium led by Spanish construction group ACS has been tipped to design, build, finance and maintain a light-rail transit system in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, a project valued at 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion), the company said Wednesday.

The city's government named the consortium, which ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc. leads with a 40 percent stake and also includes SNC Lavalin Capital, EllisDon and other partners, as its preferred pick for the Ottawa Light Rail Transit project.

That choice still must be confirmed at an Ottawa city council meeting on Dec. 19.

The light-rail project, which will replace part of the current bus system, will consist of a 12.5-kilometer (7.8-mile) line - including a tunnel that will run through the city's downtown - and 13 stations.

Plans are for construction to begin during the first four months of 2013 and for the transit system to be operational by the second half of 2018.

The ACS-led consortium, which was picked to operate the system for 15 years, beat out consortiums led by Vinci Concessions and Bouygues Travaux Publics. EFE